Our Environment in Jeopardy
Whether you love, hate or are ambivalent to President Donald Trump, his choice of Scott Pruitt for head of the EPA is downright scary for all of us. Both President Trump and Pruitt are opposed to environmental regulations that impede the progress and profits of corporations. Energy companies and their executives have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into political action committees run by or supporting Scott Pruitt to help him advance his political career. He is expected to prevent the EPA from holding big businesses accountable for their damage and to closely collaborate with the industries that the EPA is charged with policing. He has also shown hostility toward federal regulation to the extent that he has sued the EPA 14 times. His record demonstrates a philosophy that each state should be allowed to regulate their own environment. Yet, as Attorney General of Oklahoma, he shut down that state’s environmental enforcement unit. Many view his philosophy of every state for themselves as almost impossible to implement when toxic chemicals that foul the air and waterways of one state often originate from one of several other states. And if you are already glazing over wondering why this matters to you, consider the work of the EPA right in your own “backyard” (As I live in southwest Michigan, I will focus on my backyard, but there are contaminated sites everywhere in the U.S.). One of the EPA’s responsibilities is to administer the Superfund program which cleans up land contaminated by hazardous waste that poses a risk to human health and/or the environment. The top priority of the program is to have the cleanup paid for by the responsible polluter. If the polluter can’t be identified, money is appropriated by Congress. The worst of these identified hazardous waste sites are placed on a long term clean up list called the National Priorities List (NPL). What you may not realize is that right here in northern Indiana and southwest “Pure Michigan” there are superfund sites on the NPL including areas of: South Bend, Elkhart, Mishawaka, Osceola, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Allegan, Sturgis and Buchanan As head of the EPA, Pruitt and his team will have the power to de-list these Superfund sites or redirect Superfund money to the sites in communities represented by their constituents (think environmental racism). Unfortunately, Superfund is just one example of the far reaching ways that Pruitt and his team may harm our immediate environment and health. Other tactics could include: Simply failing to enforce environmental laws by firing people and cutting enforcement budgets; not regulating carbon dioxide emissions; derailing climate change-prevention efforts; adopting junk science that defies the nearly 100 percent scientific consensus about climate change; loosening national emission standards allowing power plants to emit more sulfur dioxide, smog, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter into the air; changing automobile emission standards to allow dirtier cars and dirtier fuels; raising the limits on the amount of pesticides and herbicides deemed acceptable for consumption in our food, water and agriculture; easing standards for fracking and mountaintop removal mining; allowing nuclear plants to release more radioactive material into rivers and ground water; and the list goes on… We are stuck with Pruitt for the next four years, but we do not have to keep quiet and ignore what he is doing. The actions of his office will have a direct impact on our health and environment. We must stay informed, get involved and have a voice that is heard. The EPA’s mission statement “is to protect human health and the environment” not to protect the profits and line the pockets of corporate America. – Huge thanks to mamma Barbie for this awesome article she wrote and to the insight on Pruitt and the future of our environment.